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Who Is Really “Trying Out?”



I wrote a similar piece a number of years ago, and it is even more appropriate today than it was then….

            Tryout time is upon us, and many coaches show up to the rink, with cones, pucks, a tablet of drills, an evaluation sheet, etc., waiting to see who is “trying out” for their team. But coaches, remember also, it is you, who Is “trying out” for the privilege of coaching someone else’s child. As much as little Jenny, or little Johnny go out and give it their all for 60 minutes to get picked by you, keep in mind, it is really you who is “being selected”. At each age group there is a head coach for every team, and maybe a couple assistants. Families are choosing which coach, out of the 7 or 8 at their age level in their area, that their child is going to play for. It is your responsibility to be the best coach in hockey and in life that you can be.

            Coaches should make sure to give it their all as well, explaining to families what their plans are, and maybe taking a step back and asking a parent, “what are you looking for?” If nothing else, you should make sure you are as current as possible in knowledge reading all aspects of the game. Not every coach is a great fit for every player. Are you a coach who likes to draw things out? Do you prefer demonstrations over pictures? Do you delegate to your assistants, or do things yourself? Are you there to win at all cost, or there to have fun? Or maybe someplace in the middle? Do you feel that the team they are on with you should be top priority? Or is it their High School team? Is your goal to be concerned solely about success on the ice, or possibly success in life?

            All these questions and more are what a coach should be prepared to answer for every parent who is willing to let you have a dramatic influence on the one thing that means the most to them in life, their children.  I have seen so many coaches over the years become so singularly focused on the kid that skates the fastest, or shoots the hardest, that they miss the kid who is the greatest teammate and is willing to do anything you ask without reservation. Which one of those will you take into the final game of the “big tournament”? (sarcasm dripping with that statement)

            But this should be a two-way street. Parents, part of this is your duty to talk to the coaches, find out what makes them tick, and if a coach isn’t a good fit, they won’t take it personally, or at least they shouldn’t.  Success as a coach is measured in many ways. Sure, wins and losses during the 8 months of hockey is important to some, maybe all parents, and it certainly has its place in the grand scheme of hockey, but this is where hockey makes most other sports look selfish. The coach’s job can be broken down into one statement… “It is incumbent upon a coach to put a player in the best position to succeed”. As a coach, you should be looking back not only on your successful players in hockey, but in life. The Lawyers, Doctors, Physician Assistants, Nurses, Accountants, Executives, and just good people that you have been able to influence. And maybe you are lucky enough to get selected to coach these kids.

(Lockport Cornerstone Arena Photo)

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